Asia tops Europe in report on local films' performance

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Ranging from India at 88.5% to Thailand at 37%, six of the top seven territories with the highest share of local films during 2009 were located in Asia, U.K.-based Screen Digest reports. Given its dual geographic location, even Turkey at number five (50.9%) is the exception that confirms the rule. The highest-placed European markets are France, Sweden and Germany, rounding out the top ten with 35.6%, 32.7% and 27.4%, respectively.

Using available data from over 40 international territories, Charlotte Jones calculated the combined value of local film markets (excluding Hollywood films in the U.S.) as $5.9 billion in 2009. However, Screen Digest’s cinema analyst cautions, “this represented a combined loss of $360 million, a 5.7% annual decline versus the performance of indigenous films in 2008, in turn an all-time high exceeding six billion in dollar values for the first time.” At the same time, “local film markets finished 17.9% above their five-year average performance” in 2009.

Eleven countries grossed more than $100 million with local films. Four were worth in excess of $500 million, of which “China was a new entry at this benchmark as the fourth largest [figure] overall” in 2009. The U.K. was seventh-ranked, behind both France and Germany. There were only two markets where local films generated more than $1 billion. While revenue in India dropped by 23.6%, Japan’s local-title box office increased 11.6% to $1.25 billion, representing “a much stronger 44% increase compared with their average five-year performance,” Jones concluded.

Lotte Loves Russia
South Korea’s Lotte Cinema has plans to build six cinemas and 30 digital screens in the largest cities of Russia’s Far East region by 2013. According to Screen International, Lotte is also considering another five theatres and 10 to 12 screens for Central Russia, including the already sought-after cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

European Films Promoted in L.A.
Hamburg-Germany-based European Film Promotion presented 13 films that have been submitted by member countries for consideration as Best Foreign Language Film at the 2011 Academy Awards. “To give these entries maximum exposure during this decisive time in Los Angeles and also provide a platform for European films seeking U.S. distribution,” screenings took place at the Wilshire Screening Room in Beverly Hills during the American Film Market. In 2009, two of the eight European films submitted for the L.A. screenings were selected for the Academy’s shortlist of nine titles.

At the AFM as well, EFP recorded “great demand” for its European Umbrella Office and Film Sales Support. With 29 European production and sales companies registered from 14 countries, bookings at the Office were up from prior years as Sales Support was offered for the marketing of 25 European films. Both initiatives, “created to boost the presence and sales of European films outside of Europe,” are funded by the MEDIA Programme of the European Union.

“The AFM is a key market in the yearly film business calendar between Toronto, Rome and Berlin, and EFP’s umbrella office makes it much easier, especially for smaller companies, to be present here”, says EFP board member Jaana Puskala, head of international promotion at the Finnish Film Foundation. “Currently, Finnish films are very successful internationally, and there are also interesting upcoming titles. One could even say that there is something like a new wave going on…”

Britain Salutes Oldest Cinema
At the end of October, The Independent (London) noted that the Duke of York’s Picturehouse in Brighton is celebrating its centenary. “First opened in September 1910, it was built on the site of the Amber Ales Brewery, whose exterior wall still forms the rear of the auditorium. Now an arts picture house, it was one of the first cinemas in the world, and the oldest continuously operating purpose-built cinema in Britain.” Check out the Theatre Historical Society Readerboard for more about classic cinemas.

U.K. Welcomes New Distrib Execs
Niels Swinkels was promoted to managing director of Universal Pictures Intl., U.K. and Ireland, reporting to Duncan Clarke, executive VP of distribution. Swinkels previously served as senior distribution VP for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Joining Twentieth Century Fox in January 2009 as theatrical marketing director, Cameron Saunders now holds the position of managing director of the U.K. theatrical division. He reports to Paul Higginson, executive VP for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, theatrical.

MEDIA Salles Opens Facebook
Elisabetta Brunella, secretary general of the Milan, Italy-based promotion agency MEDIA Salles, invites everyone to “become part of the MEDIA Salles Community, write on the wall, publish appointments, initiatives, information on European cinema, share news about digitalization of theatres or simply consult the information that appears.” Also featured on the Facebook page are selected Italian films with release dates and places in the rest of the world.

To Save and Project
Included in the eighth annual International Festival of Film Preservation at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art were numerous “newly restored masterworks and rediscoveries” by European filmmakers such as Patrice Chéreau, Abel Gance, Volker Schlöndorff, Pierre Schoendoerffer, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Luchino Visconti. The latter’s 1963 masterpiece, Il Gattopardo (The Leopard), opened the showcase in a restoration by Cineteca di Bologna, L’Immagine Ritrovata, The Film Foundation, Pathé, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Twentieth Century Fox and Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale, with funding provided by Gucci and The Film Foundation.

Organized by the Department of Film’s associate curators, Joshua Siegel and Anne Morra, with film collections manager Katie Trainor, the festival comprised over 35 films from 13 countries, “virtually all of them having their New York premieres, and some shown in versions never before seen in the United States.” Since 2002, MoMA’s preservation festival has projected over 400 works that were saved by more than 35 archives, commercial studios and distributors in nearly as many countries.

Cinecitta’ Turns Cinemagnum

Projecting forward, the 600-square-meter (6,460 sq. ft.) screen of Nürnberg, Germany’s Cinecitta’ former IMAX auditorium will be called Cinemagnum (www.cinecitta.de/cinemagnum/aktuelle-filme). The rebranding move is in line with the other large-format venues by the Weber family, which were introduced in the October edition of our “Big Screen” series. Instead of 15/70 analog format, the 518-seat house is now digital only, with Doremi servers and Christie CP2000SB projectors. Cinecitta’ noted that the move will not only expand the programming options even further but also lower operating costs, namely for prints, energy, maintenance and licensing fees.

Currently working on a solution that would enable utilization of the overhead dome screen as well, Cinecitta’ is already gearing up to upgrade its DLP Cinema to 4K. With its unique programming mix, the Cinemagnum is the highest-attended theatre in the multiplex, which in turn is the highest-attended location in Germany. About half of the 230,000 admissions that Cinecitta’ counted for Avatar 3D came from its giant-screen auditorium.

E-mail news and comments for Andreas Fuchs to kevin.lally@filmjournal.com.